‘Red Tom’ Hickey, the uncrowned King of Texas Socialism
Special to The News
Thomas Aloysius Hickey was a socialist journalist, lecturer and West Texas oilman. He was born in Dublin, Ireland January 14, 1869, with his father and other members of his family involved in the socialist movement in Ireland.
Tom left his home country at the age of 23 in 1892. The life of this Irishman is very well told in “Red Tom” Hickey” written by Peter Buckingham and published by the Texas A&M University Press. This interesting book tells the story of Hickey that very few Texans know. The recognition of his name seems to be gauged by the popularity of socialism at the time. Socialism in Texas has been very unpopular with citizens but accepted by many.
When the three-year contract ended at the Carnegie Steel Works in Homestead, Pennsylvania the workers’ salaries were sharply reduced and there was to be no more union. The workers struck. The company built a barbed fence around the plant. When three hundred Pinkerton Detectives were assigned to control the angry workers, shots were fired. The strike began national news. When Hickey read about it in the papers, he chose the side of labor. He joined the Socialist Labor Party and the Knights of Labor. He read Karl Marx and became a defender and fan of Big Bill Haywood and famous Mexican Pancho Villa. So started the mature life of Tom Hickey.
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